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Netherlands Defense bill 2018
Latest update: March 2018
The Dutch minister and secretary of defense (Mrs. Ank Bijleveld and Mrs. Barbara Visser) published the defense bill 2018 on March 27. After the elections for a new parliament in 2018 and the installation of the new - four party - government both were sworn into office. Part of the coalition agreement was an additional investment of 1.5 billion Euro annually for defense. Measures which will be taken are related to investment in personnel, large investment in IT and cyber intelligence, further actions to increase operational readiness and investment in new equipment aimed at international cooperation. Upgrades of current material and purchasing new equipment will be executed for all four services (Navy, Army, Air Force and military police). The defense bill outlines the upgrade and procurement programs in the period from 2018 until 2033. With the defense budget posted for the period 2018 - 2022 The Netherlands will still not match the 2% of BBP as agreed during the NATO summit in Wales in 2014. Part of this is due to a rising BBP. For the four years based on the moment the bill was published the percentage will be 1,29 - 1,29 - 1,30 and 1,28 respectively.
Royal Netherlands Air Force: aircraft procurement
Aircraft Program status Current no. No Cost min. (mln) Cost. Max (mln) First arrival Last arrival
F-35A Entry into service 2 34 2.500   2019 2023
A330MRTT Entry into service 0 2 250 1.000 2020 2024
C-130H / C-130H.30 Replacement 4   250 1.000 2031 2033
G-IV Replacement 1   25 100 2022 2022
CH-47F Purchase and upgrade 6 20 250 1.000 2020 2022
AH-64E Upgrade 28 28 250 1.000 2022 2024
PC-7 Replacement 13   100 250 2025 2026
Male UAV (MQ-9) To be ordered 0 4 100 250 2021 2022
Total   54 88 3.725 4.600

F-35A Lightning II:

Two aircraft are conducting the operational test and development program (OT&E) at Edwards AFB, California. The first order for eight aircraft was made in LRIP 11 which is to be delivered by December 2019. This order is split between six aircraft produced at Fort Worth, Texas and will be delivered to the 56th FW at Luke AFB, Arizona. The Dutch contingent will be assigned to an as yet unnamed (fourth) F-35A fighter squadron. Aircraft 'AN-9' is the first aircraft for the RNLAF at Cameri in Italy and will be delivered to Leeuwarden Air Base in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Last year the MoD stated that 34 F-35As will be purchased in a block buy from production lot 12. The decision to buy the remaining three aircraft will be taken in 2019.


Together with Luxembourg two aircraft are bought which will be delivered to Eindhoven Air Base in 2020. Belgium, Germany and Norway also joined the NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) program. All aircraft, five based at Eindhoven and three at Cologne, will be delivered by 2024.

C-130H / C-130H.30 Hercules:

Before being withdrawn from service expected from 2031 the current fleet will be upgraded.


The sole Gulfstream IV aircraft had been slated several times for retirement. However it will remain in service until being replaced in 2022.

CH-47F Chinook:

As additional to the already 14 ordered new CH-47Fs and retrofit of the current CH-47Fs to the same standard another three Chinooks will be bought. The first are expected to arrive in 2020 which at the same time will see the withdrawal from service of the current CH-47Ds.


The current fleet is being upgraded by Pilatus in Sweden. A new digital cockpit will be installed as well as some other upgrades.


The MQ-9 Reaper - Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE UAV) - was already selected but its purchase delayed due to funds not being available. Four MQ-9s will be based at Leeuwarden.
Royal Netherlands Air Force: aircraft upgrades
Aircraft Program status Current no. No Cost min. (mln) Cost. Max (mln) First arrival Last arrival
C-130H / C-130H.30 Upgrades 4 4 25 100 2022 2024
AH-64E Retrofit 28 28 250 1.000 2022 2024
NH90-NFH Block upgrade 20 20 100 250 2026 2030
Total   52 52 375 1.350

AH-64E Apache:

The current fleet of Apaches will be retrofitted to the AH-64 Apache Guardian variant, the latest model of the attack helicopter.


Regular update for the maritime helicopter.
Royal Netherlands Air Force: other aircraft related programs
In order to keep the Hercules fleet in service until 2031 between 25 - 100 million Euro is needed from 2022 - 2024. For the F-35A both Tactical and Strategic Air to Ground missiles will be purchased both valued with a price tag of 25 - 100 million and in service date of 2023 - 2028 and 2024 - 2028 respectively. Another purchase will be for the Multi-Ship, Multi-Type (MSMT) Helicopter simulator to be delivered in 2022. The NH90-NFH fleet will be fitted with a Piloting Forward Looking Infra-Red (PFLIR) which should be installed in the 2024 - 2026 timeframe.
Royal Netherlands Air Force: current aircraft not included in the defense bill
Other expenditures are part of the annual defense budget and consist of operating the F-16 until the F-35A has been fully integrated. The AS532U2 Cougar will remain in service after 2023 and will become a dedicated special operations helicopter.
Photo gallery
F-35A during the belevingsvluchten at Volkel. To arrive Q4-2019 at Leeuwarden. A330MRTT which is already operated by the RAF. To arrive at Eindhoven from 2020. C-130H.30 at Eindhoven, due to be replaced from 2031.
The Gulfstream (G-IV) which will be replaced in 2022.
CH-47F which will see 17 new and six retrofitted helicopters and will be based at Gilze-Rijen and Ft. Hood, Texas. The AH-64Ds will be upgraded to AH-64E Apache Guardian and will also be based at Gilze-Rijen and Ft. Hood, Texas.
The PC-7 is currently being upgraded and will be replaced in 2025 - 2026.
MQ-9 Reaper (USAF, Luchtmachtdagen Volkel 2013) which should enter service in 2021 at Leeuwarden. NH90-NFH which is undergoing a retrofit program and will receive a block upgrade between 2026 - 2030.